Even before I met you, I loved you, Genie. Your dark eyes, sparkling on the back cover of your now classic book, Lady With A Spear, your adventures as a young scientist in the action-jammed pages, and your passion for life in the sea and for your life as a scientist and parent, were deeply moving – and have inspired my enduring admiration, respect , and love.
As a birthday present in 1953, my parents gave me your account of traveling alone as a young field scientist in the 1940s under circumstances daunting for anyone of any age or gender at any time or place, exploring reefs among islands in the South Pacific, and the Red Sea, of diving with the legendary fisherman, Siakong in Palau, of your challenges as you emerged as a successful professional scientist, gracefully combining marriage and your passion for ocean exploration.
For me, it was love at first sight, though a year went by before I actually met you in your trailer-lab at Cape Haze, the true birthplace of what has become the phenomenally successful Mote Marine Laboratory. You invited me, a nineteen year old Florida State University sophomore, to come to the lab when I wrote to you expressing interest, and my parents drove me down for the meeting. My father, expecting the distinguished Dr. Clark to appear in a lab coat with graying hair, sturdy black shoes and peering through bifocals was astonished when you greeted us in shorts, a colorful shirt and sandals, no glasses. “She’s just a girl!” I remember him exclaiming.
Actually, your childlike sense of wonder, curiosity, inquisitiveness and exuberant joy in sharing discoveries are Genie-hallmarks, traits that have endeared you to large and growing legions of people who have come to see the world in new ways, owing to your guidance.
I treasure the times we have shared during six amazing decades, a time when more has been learned about the ocean than during all preceding history, with you at the forefront as an intrepid and beloved leader, explorer, scientist, witness, teacher, communicator, and friend. Your life has become intricately and permanently linked to mine and to that of generations of people who have come and will in the future come to know you as a treasured spirit of the sea.
Now and forever, Genie, I love you.
Always your dive-buddy in waiting,